|Hammerhead Shark Curiosity Sparked; New Orleans, Louisiana: Aquarium of the Americas 10.2008|
My aunt Shir has positively impacted my life in so many ways. When I look back at my childhood, she was the one who guided me into the underwater world anyway she could. Most of the time she took me to aquariums; here I would ask the workers a series of questions. The most important questions that I asked were: “Where did they attend college, what was their major, and what is one thing that they adored about their job?” Most of the aquarists emphasized that they went to college near the aquarium since they had to be close to their job. All majors were in the Environmental field in some aspect and most of what they enjoyed was the hands on experience and close interactions that they had spent with the animals.
Ever since I could remember my first moment in a marine aquarium I adored sharks of all species. I recall those beady eyes staring straight into my tiny blue eyes when I was standing on the other side of the glass aquarium. The intensity that I felt was a rush that I had never felt. This was not an uncomfortable feeling by any means. The shark’s initial gaze was best described as a moment in time when everything just stopped. Here this magnificent fearsome creature swims closer to the glass and looks at me as if he was asking, “Who is this reflection in the glass on the other side?” I felt no fear, but a sudden curiosity rose upon me and I wondered why a fish of this size and domination was held in a place such as this? What gives humans the right to hold such a monstrous and flesh eating beast in such small quarters? Could mankind not learn and educate themselves in the open waters, which would eliminate the hassle and cruelty of bringing this animal and other animals alike to this particular location? Studies could easily have been done by simple observations of the animal’s behavior and dietary supplements in their “own” natural habitat.
|Tiger Shark Reflection; Boston, Massachusetts: New England Aquarium 12.2007|
Have we become a society where we can take living organisms out of their own environment and place them in a secluded area for shear “enjoyment?” I can honestly say that working in the “actual” field of the specimen/ specimens has had a huge scientific, as well as personal impact on my views of aquariums. I must admit that I was intrigued to be able to visit one common location where all the marine life was uncovered to the general public. You watched “Free Willy” haven’t you? I remember as a young girl I would watch that movie over and over again until finally one day my VHS tape stopped working! Like the young boy, I knew in my heart that this creature was meant to live in his own environment. Much of what I learned from that story, I had shaped in my own life. I created a mission to research our marine life in their own surroundings.
While I was asking aquarists for feedback on my questions, I discovered that some aquariums do utilize oceanographic research institutions or aquariums conduct their own research programs, and sometimes specialize in species and ecosystems that can be found in local waters based on where the aquarium is located. Therefore, there are some aquariums with a strong purpose! I wanted to describe to you my first initial reaction when I viewed sharks for the first time. After all, this was one of those memorable moments that seem to replay in my mind.
|Stingray Smile for Camera; New Orleans, Louisiana: Aquarium of the Americas 10.2008|
During my senior year in high school I realized that I did not want to work in an aquarium due to the countless documentaries that I watched on the Discovery Channel. During my undergraduate studies at the Pennsylvania State University, it was determined that most of my non-paid internships were at the local aquarium. I have a lot of respect for aquarists, but this was not my calling. I knew I was destined to work in the field, which would allow me to collect more scientific evidence and offer the “opportunity of a lifetime” to watch the gracious wonders of the world play and roam the vast oceans.
|Lionfish with Sunken Treasure; New Orleans, Louisiana: Aquarium of the Americas 10.2008|
Currently, I still do pay a visit to aquariums from time to time; however, I do not tend to visit the cetaceans on display. I prefer to visit the open exhibits to learn more about sharks and other fish, which in consequence helps me to educate our youth by supplying them with “Fun Facts” as they continue to be amazed about what they see. In addition, I can master my photography skills within my preferred exhibits.
Presently, I still research sharks and enjoy reading articles and watching documentaries hosted by National Geographic and Discovery. I highly recommend collecting a few National Geographic magazines and/or watching their programs; this has not only helped me understand different worlds, but also recognize the subjects and angles that one should photograph. Marine Biology does combine well with Photography. If it was not for my waterproof Olympus camera and my Canon EOS digital Rebel T2i these moments would turn into a faded memory instead of capturing a magnificent shot that is rare to see. I will discuss Photography, which also ties in with Graphic Design in future posts; I have absorbed lots of information on both of these topics.